EASTERN BLUEBIRD – (Sialia sialis)
The Eastern bluebird is in the same family as the American robin (thrushes) and share the same breast color, dark orange, although it is smaller. The top parts in the male are blue and the underside is white.
This bird is often seen perched on wires as its habitat includes open spaces, whether fields, parks, or golf courses. They eat insects and berries for the most part. Sometimes they catch insects on the fly.
The Latin name simply means ‘a kind of bird’. The three bluebird species have a long history in association with human beings and there’s even a special word for work associated with this bird: bluebirding. Because of their diet, they are sought after by farmers and gardeners to rid their crops of pests. The bluebird is also celebrated in various songs.
Conservation: Bluebirds nest in cavities (tree holes or nest boxes) and they will aggressively compete with other males of their species, and other species as well, to claim a coveted spot. Several decades ago their numbers were in decline, mainly due to competition for nesting areas from introduced species such as European starlings and House sparrows. Due to the threat of extinction, volunteers started building nest boxes for them in the 1950s, along ‘Bluebird Trails’ all across North America. (But the first bluebird nest boxes were actually built in the 1800s by concerned bird lovers.) Those trails were rows of wooden nest boxes on top of fence posts in fields, spaced about 200 meters and located in accessible areas for maintenance. The openings of those boxes are made small enough to keep the European starling out. This bird’s numbers have increased since then. There are now several ‘bluebird societies’ as well in Canada and the USA, for the promotion of conservation and protection of the three species of bluebird.
Although observed only rarely or occasionally, the eastern bluebird breeds on PEI. In June 2017, it was reported that some of them took over a nest box from Tree swallows in the Souris Line Road area. The same thing seems to have happened as per contributor Lynne Bradley in June 2018 (see photos below).